Tag Archives: standards

Another Unicode omission

Why isn’t the play/pause/stop/record family of icons in Unicode? It includes the four suits on modern playing cards, every mathematical symbol ever used, and a number of now obsolete languages. Shouldn’t it also include what is a ubiquitous set of about eight icons used on everything from 8-tracks to iPods? There’s even a nice spot for them, right next to ⏏ (eject).

This has been discussed at least twice on the unicode mailing list, but no decision was reached either time. It seems that some people think the icons should be included because they would be useful, and others think they should be excluded because it would open the door to including every pictogram and icon in use on every toolbar and consumer electronic in existence. The latter seems like a very flimsy argument to me; the argument for including them stems from their ubiquity, which would prevent every other symbol in use from piggybacking their way into the character set. In fact, the only symbol more ubiquitous is probably the “power” symbol; it should also be included. And most of the symbols already included in the “Miscellaneous Technical” chart are far more obscure.

Update 2007-05-10: The unicode people graciously responded to my email regarding this, and it sounds like it would require an evangelist to encourage the inclusion of these symbols before it happened. It’s so awesome when a standards organization actually responds to the needs of its users.